Blind Spot Detection (1 Corinthians 6:12-20)

The technology being introduced to new vehicles is quite amazing. Not just fancy things like onboard Wifi and built in navigation with touch screen controls, but safety features such as lane management systems and blind spot detection sensors.

1 Corinthians 6:12-20 is a form of blind spot detection.

Believers throughout history have had blind spots of all kinds.

We can look to the Crusades in the 12th and 13th centuries or the religious wars between Protestants and Catholics in northern Europe.

Closer to home, we note how Christians accepted and even defended African slavery in the American colonies and antebellum (before the war) south.

And we continue to have blind spots today.

Materialism and financial greed

  • An influential Christian subculture has emerged that promotes this – health and wealth and personal victory/success.
  • Of all sins, people will gladly confess anger issues and addictions but not materialism and greed, proving that this is a huge blind spot for believers in the 21st century.

Worry

  • I’m just a worrier.
  • Yeah, well, I’m just a murderer.

Self-righteousness

  • Most people who have marriage problems think that they have communication problems
  • They (we) really have self-righteousness problems
  • But if I bring that up as the cause of strife, I’m usually face some serious push back.

Relativism

Especially problematic for the millennial generation – my kids.

In a relativistic culture, truth is not considered objective, universal, and unchanging, but subjective, personal, and evolving.

The blind spot of relativism causes us to separate public life from private faith

We become dualists – spiritual schizophrenics.

This is what took place in Corinth. Because sexual immorality was so common and accepted as part of Corinthian culture,[1] Christians in Corinth didn’t see sexual sin as sinful—it was a blind spot.

The Greek word used in 1 Corinthians 6 for sexual immorality is porneia, from which we get porn, a word that represented any sexual activity outside of the protective covenant of marriage.

God created the sexual relationship between a husband and wife to be beautiful and good—moral—, but sexual immorality is like throwing a bucket of crude oil on a Rembrandt.

But do you want to know what the biggest blind spot is for Christians?

For some of us, our biggest blind spot issue is not our sin but is God’s grace—the cross is in our blind spot. And that is really our biggest problem.

What we need more than anything else is to have the cross of Jesus exposed. This is what will help us face our blind spots, not as sources of condemnation, but as opportunities for sanctification—areas in which God can work his empowering grace, setting us free from materialism, worry, self-righteousness, relativism and, like the Corinthians, free from sexual sin.

This is where Paul wants to take us—down the road of gospel freedom and transformation. But first, he has to do some blind spot detection.

 

VERSE 12

12 “All things are permissible for me,” you say—but not everything is profitable. “All things are permissible for me”—but I should not be enslaved by anything.

Apparently, the Corinthians were using this slogan “all things are permissible” to justify their sexual immorality—like a theological excuse.

It is conceivable that [the Corinthians] were mimicking Paul, himself, because it could certainly have been one of his own catch-phrases.67[2]

The cross has set us free from the condemnation of the law. Because of grace, no charges can possibly stick. Our souls are like spiritual Teflon – non-stick.

But making excuses for sexual sin reveals a tragic misunderstanding of grace. Paul addresses this in his letter to the Romans.

  • Romans 5:20-21, “But where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness, resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
  • Romans 6:1-2, “What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply?Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
  • Romans 6:11-14, “11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

According to Paul, grace is not an excuse for sin but is a motivation for living in conformity to the wisdom of God; not only because it is right, but because it is good for us.

 

VERSES 13-14

13 You say, “Food is for the stomach and the stomach for food, but God will abolish both.” [3] The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.

Here is the Corinthian justifying logic:

Just as God designed our present bodies to enjoy food, he designed our physical bodies to enjoy sex. [4]

There is truth here.

Food is good. Sex is good.

But there are guardrails to these gifts God has given.

  • Food is good. But Gluttony is a misuse of food.
  • Sex is good. But outside of the marriage covenant, promiscuity, adultery, and pornography is a misuse and an abuse of the sexual gift. Can never be what God designed it to be.

I think this is why Paul brings up the resurrection of Jesus and our future resurrection. He is highlighting the importance not only of the spiritual but of the physical—because the physical is the realm where practical discipleship takes place.

Os Guinness says, “It is our bodies which are instruments either for evil or for good. It is our bodies that Paul urges us to present to God as a living sacrifice. Obedience or disobedience are expressed in our bodies or they are expressed nowhere. Obedience for the Christian is a body activity. God does not address us purely as minds or emotions or wills, but as people with bodies. His concern is not for abstract acts, like adultery in theory, or immorality in theory, but his concern is for the whole person who does these actions.”[6]

 

VERSES 15-17

15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

Human beings are not merely physical creatures. We are body and soul.

Here is a fun phrase: psychosomatic unity.

This is one reason why sexual union has a spiritual component.[7] Sex is more than a physical union, making human intercourse qualitatively different from the reproductive activities of the birds and bees. Or horses, snakes, fish, or any other creatures.

To remove a spiritual understanding from sexual activity is reduces sex to an animalistic activity that eventually leads to the abuse of women and pornographic exploitation.

Because sex reflects the most intimate of interpersonal relations among humans, it should be reserved for the most permanent of interpersonal commitments, what we call marriage.5[8]

The main application comes in verse 18.

 

VERSE 18

18 Flee from sexual immorality. [9] All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.

What do you think Paul has in mind when he tells the Corinthians to “flee” from sexual sin?

To run for their lives!

Have you seen Tsunami videos? You don’t stick around out of curiosity to see what happens. You run for high ground.

It is [possible] that the apostle had in mind Joseph’s example of fleeing Potiphar’s wife (Gen. 39:12).[10]

Rather than moderate resistance to immorality, Paul insisted on radical resistance.[11]

Because sexual sin is not just wrong; it is harmful—physically, emotionally, spiritually, relationally… in every way.

If you play with fire you are going to get burned. Play with sex…

Hear this: Fleeing from sexual sin is not in order to be saved but because we have been saved. We now have not only the saving grace of Jesus but are indwelt with the enabling grace of the Holy Spirit.

 

VERSES 19-20

19 Do you not know that your body is a temple (dwelling) of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a great price. Therefore, honor God with your body.

Did you notice the motives and power Paul provides for the ability to flee from entanglement in sexual sin – or any other blind spot issue?

The primary motive is grace.[12] “You were bought at a great price.”

The image of being bought is borrowed from the slave market, with Christ’s blood being the purchase price.[13]

Another motive is honoring the reputation of Jesus. I am not my own. I have been rescued, forgiven, and adopted as a child of God. This is the ultimate reason to honor God with my body – my life reflects on Jesus as my Savior-King. with my whole life.

1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” For the honor and reputation of Jesus.

The power is the indwelling Holy Spirit. We are the new temple of God in whom he inhabits. Everything we do is to be set apart as holy—whether worshipping on a Sunday or working on Monday or playing golf or fishing on Saturday.

The result is a new desire and ability – “to honor God with your body.” Since we are not who we were we don’t have to live like we did.

 

Shock and Awe for Christmas

For Christmas 2005, we gave our kids a go-kart. In order for it to be a surprise, it was parked on the back patio with the double doors shut and the blinds pulled closed so that they couldn’t see outside. Then came the  “shock and awe” moment we pulled up the blinds to reveal the go-cart.

They were so excited!   

This is what Paul is doing. This is what preaching is. The unveiling of a blind spot—not on the back patio but in our hearts. Not just the blind spot of our sin, but the revealing of the cross of Jesus—the heart of God for us.

  • We then abide in union with Jesus.
  • We receive the empowering grace of the Holy Spirit.
  • We honor God with everything we have – our hearts, minds, hands, feet, eyes, possessions, income, everything.

Because we are not our own, having been bought at a great price.

 


 

[1] Richard L. Pratt Jr, I & II Corinthians, vol. 7, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 98.

67 He virtually admits this both here and in 10:23.

[2] David Prior, The Message of 1 Corinthians: Life in the Local Church, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1985), 95.

[3] Pratt, 99. That God will destroy both food and the stomach does not necessarily imply that food and stomachs will not exist in the new heavens and the new earth. Paul probably meant that God would destroy stomachs and food as they are now recognized and experienced.

[4] Ibid., 99.

[5] Ibid., 105.

[6] Quoted in David Prior, The Message of 1 Corinthians: Life in the Local Church, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1985), 99.

[7] ESV Study Bible notes on 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.

5 Bruce, 1 and 2 Corinthians, 64, quotes D. S. Bailey: Verse 16 “displays a psychological insight into human sexuality which is altogether exceptional by first-century standards … he insists that it is an act which, by reason of its very nature, engages and expresses the whole personality in such a way as to constitute an unique mode of self-disclosure and self-commitment.”

[8] Craig Blomberg, 1 Corinthians, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), 128.

[9] Ibid., 126–127. This is the broadest term for sexual sin in the Greek language, embracing any form of intercourse between two individuals who are not united in heterosexual marriage (v. 18a).

[10] Pratt, 101.

[11] Ibid., 101.

[12] Ibid., 102. Because they belong to him, believers do not have the right to rebel against him by using their bodies in ways the Lord has prohibited. Further, because this purchase results in redemption and salvation, it ought to inspire grateful obedience, not rebellion.

[13] ESV Study Bible, (7:23; see also Rom. 6:17–18; Eph. 1:7; see also 1 Pet. 1:19Rev. 5:9)

 

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